Skip to main content

Greenberg Traurig Secures Multimillion-Dollar Reversal for Valley Health System in Nevada Case

LAS VEGAS – April 18, 2024 – Attorneys from global law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP, led by Appeals & Legal Issues Shareholder Kendyl T. Hanks, obtained a multimillion-dollar reversal in an important case for Nevada health care provider Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center. The case, Valley Health Sys., LLC v. Murray, (79658), was decided in the Nevada Supreme Court on March 14, 2024.

After a decade of litigation, the Nevada Supreme Court joined other jurisdictions in holding, as a matter of first impression, that hospitals do not owe fiduciary duties to patients in the provision of medical services. Because the approximately $50 million judgment against Centennial Hills was erroneously predicated on a non-existent fiduciary duty theory submitted to the jury, the court vacated a $32,420,000 punitive damages award and held that the $16,210,000 compensatory damage award was limited by NRS Chapter 41A to $1,339,000.

Like most states, Nevada law limits noneconomic damages in “professional negligence”—aka medical malpractice—cases against health care providers, including hospitals. Nevada’s $350,000 noneconomic damages cap and related provisions limiting liability for health care providers were adopted by Nevada voters with the passage of the Keep Our Doctors in Nevada (KODIN) ballot initiative in 2004 and subsequently codified in Chapter 41A. As the Nevada Supreme Court previously recognized in upholding the law as constitutional, Chapter 41A was enacted in response to a rapidly mounting health care crisis in Nevada and for the legitimate purpose of ensuring the continuing availability of adequate health care to state residents.

Hanks noted that, in recent years, plaintiffs in many jurisdictions—including Nevada—have pursued a variety of creative arguments and novel legal theories in attempts to circumvent statutory health care liability limits. In Valley Health System, the plaintiff argued Centennial Hills owed patients a heightened fiduciary duty above the standard of care by which a health care provider’s conduct is usually measured. The Nevada Supreme Court squarely rejected that theory, finding “[n]o authority supports a broad finding that hospitals owe patients a fiduciary duty.” The court also acknowledged that “recognizing a claim for breach of fiduciary duty against a hospital in relation to a patient’s medical care would be duplicative, and therefore improper, where the allegation boils down to one of medical malpractice by the hospital.”

“This outcome has been years in the making and we are pleased with the opinion of the court, especially for Centennial Hills. This reversal sets an important precedent for many health care entities because it clarifies the duties hospitals owe, as already defined by state law, and rejects efforts to avoid Chapter 41A requirements through creative lawyering,” Hanks said. “It’s an honor to represent Centennial Hills, and we appreciate their continued trust in our legal guidance.”

Hanks is an experienced appellate advocate who represents clients in high-stakes appeals and cases involving issues of first impression throughout the country, with a particular focus on health care industry clients. Hanks also frequently works as embedded appellate counsel with trial teams to ensure minimization of risk, preservation of error for appeal whether before or after trial, and continuity of strategy for clients with inter-jurisdictional operations.

In addition to Hanks, the Greenberg Traurig team representing Valley Health System included Kara B. Hendricks and Tami D. Cowden, who is recently retired.

Read the Nevada Supreme Court’s opinion here.

About Greenberg Traurig, LLP – Texas: Texas is important to Greenberg Traurig, LLP and the firm’s history. With more than 160 Texas lawyers in AustinDallas, and Houston, Greenberg Traurig has deep roots in the Texas business, legal, and governmental communities. Greenberg Traurig Texas works with clients to address their interdisciplinary legal needs across the state utilizing the firm’s global platform. The Texas attorneys are experienced in industries key to the state’s future, including aviation, chemicals, construction, education, energy and natural resources, financial institutions, health care, hedge funds, hospitality, infrastructure, insurance, media, medical devices, pharmaceutical and biotechnology, real estate, retail, sports, technology and software, telecommunications, transportation, and video games and esports.

About Greenberg Traurig’s Las Vegas Office: Greenberg Traurig’s Las Vegas attorneys counsel clients in appellate, construction, corporate and securities, entertainment, gaming, intellectual property, litigation, and real estate matters.

About Greenberg Traurig: Greenberg Traurig, LLP has more than 2750 attorneys in 47 locations in the United States, Europe and the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia. The firm is a 2022 BTI “Highly Recommended Law Firm” for superior client service and is consistently among the top firms on the Am Law Global 100 and NLJ 500. Greenberg Traurig is Mansfield Rule 6.0 Certified Plus by The Diversity Lab. The firm is recognized for powering its U.S. offices with 100% renewable energy as certified by the Center for Resource Solutions Green-e® Energy program and is a member of the U.S. EPA’s Green Power Partnership Program. The firm is known for its philanthropic giving, innovation, diversity, and pro bono. Web: